Notes & Noticias: Texas Roads At An Impasse

Dear Friends,

Today, the House and Senate come back to the Capitol to continue working on the last item on the second special session agenda: transportation funding.

As I wrote last week, Tea Party Republicans were trying to kill the effort in the House by instituting a “floor” for the Rainy Day Fund, which would harm our future ability to fund priorities such as education and healthcare.

Now, the House and Senate are at an impasse on this issue, and Governor Perry has threatened to call a third special session if this is not resolved.

Read on for more about transportation funding, as well as breaking news in Texas redistricting.

Texas Roads At An Impasse

I’ve long advocated for more funding for our transportation infrastructure as a member of the House Transportation Committee. That’s why I asked the Texas Transportation Institute to publish a report — “The High Cost of Doing Nothing” — that urges our state to fund our transportation needs.

While roads are important, so are other issues that affect all Texans, such as education and access to healthcare. I oppose any plan that includes a “floor” provision that would restrict the use of Rainy Day Funds.

The House and Senate have agreed on a plan that would ask the voters to fund transportation projects with existing oil and gas production taxes, which currently flow into the Rainy Day Fund.

However, the Senate plan would stop funding transportation projects if the Rainy Day Fund balance drops below $6 billion. My fellow Democrats in the House and I oppose a “floor” provision because we have so many pressing needs in our state, and cannot further limit our future ability to fund any of them.

We must fund infrastructure in Texas. A strong roads system is a critical component of our economy, and key to bringing jobs and investment here to Texas — as well as making sure workers can get to those jobs.

However, we cannot allow transportation funding to hamper other efforts to fund education or healthcare.

I cannot support any plan that includes a “floor” in the Rainy Day Fund, and encourage all of my fellow House Democrats to hold firm in our position.

Big News In Redistricting

United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the Justice Department will ask a federal district court to require Texas to obtain pre-approval of any changes to voting laws or methods.

This decision is driven by Texas’s recent history of intentional discrimination against minority voters. 

Holder made the following statement:

“Today I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This request to ‘bail in’ the state – and require it to obtain ‘pre-approval’ from either the Department or a federal court before implementing future voting changes – is available under the Voting Rights Act when intentional voting discrimination is found. Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder – as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized – we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.”

This is important news for the lawsuit that I and other parties filed in federal court regarding redistricting.

This called “bail-in” provision would return the burden to the State of Texas to prove it did not discriminate in election-related activities. Furthermore, Holder’s announcement suggests that the remaining sections of the Voting Rights Act can and should be used to prevent Texas from enacting intentionally discriminatory maps that disenfranchise minority voters.

I applaud Holder and the Justice Department for using any and all means necessary to defend the voting rights of minority Americans in our courts.

School Supply Giveaway in Dove Springs

The first day of school is just around the corner!

I’m excited to support this upcoming Back to School supply giveaway in Dove Springs. Items will be available for kids of all ages.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 17th and starts at 10:00 a.m.Supplies are first come first served, so make sure to arrive early to get the materials your family needs for a successful start to a new school year.

Supplies are still needed, so donate what you can, including pencils, pens, glue, crayons, scissors, binders, and backpacks. You may send donations to Dove Springs Recreation Advisory Board, 5801 Ainez Dr. Austin, Texas 78744, Attention Eunica or Liz.

Please SHARE this graphic on Facebook and help spread the word about this important program.  

Thanks again for reading my newsletter. I enjoy sending these updates each week. Please encourage your friends to sign up for Notes and Noticias on my website!